Rhapsody's Most Anticipated Albums of 2013

POP

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP (Spring)
The rumors (most of them started by the Lady herself) abound about Gaga's long-anticipated third album. She quit smoking weed to write it. She wrote 50 songs. One may or may not be called "Burqa." What we know for sure: We can't wait to see what she wears in the videos! [Rachel Devitt]

Britney Spears (Title and date TBA)
That's right, bitches. You know who it is. And since Brit-Brit just rather fabulously quit her day job on The X-Factor, she's gonna have plenty of time to get her eighth album all shiny and pretty for us. She's reportedly working with producer Danja again (as well as Dr. Luke, will.i.am, Max Martin ...Expand »

POP

Lady Gaga, ARTPOP (Spring)
The rumors (most of them started by the Lady herself) abound about Gaga's long-anticipated third album. She quit smoking weed to write it. She wrote 50 songs. One may or may not be called "Burqa." What we know for sure: We can't wait to see what she wears in the videos! [Rachel Devitt]

Britney Spears (Title and date TBA)
That's right, bitches. You know who it is. And since Brit-Brit just rather fabulously quit her day job on The X-Factor, she's gonna have plenty of time to get her eighth album all shiny and pretty for us. She's reportedly working with producer Danja again (as well as Dr. Luke, will.i.am, Max Martin and Hit-Boy), so here's hoping for a more stable sequel to Blackout! [R.D.]

Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: The Pink Print (Fall)
The divine Ms. M is nothing if not relentless. Having released an album about every 18 months (not to mention about a gazillion guest shots) since she broke out, Nicki is now taking a break from her busy schedule of Idol judging and Mariah feuding to release yet another Pink Friday super-titled album next fall. She originally said the album would be a lot like the hip-hop-fueled, smack-talking The Re-Up bonus for Roman Reloaded, but after that album didn't do as well as planned, she may change her tune. [R.D.]

Mariah Carey (Title and date TBA)
Oooo, watch your back, Nicki, because fellow Idol judge Mimi's also gearing up to grace us with some searing diva wattage this year. Lead single "Triumphant (Get 'Em)" came out in the fall. [R.D.]

Adele (Title and date TBA)
This one is pretty iffy, especially given that the lady just had a baby. But rumor has it that Adele is ready to head back into the studio and that an album might be out by the end of the year. Fingers crossed, because for real, Adele? We can't find someone like you, either. [R.D.]

Justin Timberlake (Title and date TBA)
OMGJT! OMGJT! OMGJT! We know we should say more than that about the coy little hints our long-lost blue-eyed funkster dropped last week about finally (FINALLY!) getting his cute little booty back in the studio this year. Like, will he work with Timbaland? Will he show that other Justin how he do? Will he sing a sappy ballad about Jessica Biel? The new single "Suit & Tie" answers at least some of those questions. [R.D.]

Katy Perry, (Title TBA; summer)
Katy Perry started dropping hints about a "dark" new album back in November. While we're kind of excited about the idea of Evil Katy, we're also glad to hear the queen of pop confectionary and candy-coated teenage dreams probably won't drop the album until summer, which is, by now, her season. [R.D.]

HIP-HOP

Big Sean, Hall of Fame (TBA)
Big Sean has been so casually successful that he inspires envy. From signing with Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music fresh out of high school to popularizing a flow derisively called “#hashtag rap” on a series of best-selling singles, the Chicago-to-L.A. rapper’s rise seems too effortless. Will he finally silence his critics with Hall of Fame, which he has said in interviews will be more substantive and personal than Finally Famous? It doesn’t really matter. Big Sean’s job is to make you “Dance (A$S)” and do the muthafckn hammer time, and he’s proven to be very good at it. [Mosi Reeves]

Action Bronson, Saab Stories (TBA)
Raps fans are a fickle lot -- they often value personal discoveries found through Google searches more than heavily marketed albums, even when both products are essentially the same. Action Bronson suffered from that dichotomy in 2011 when his collaboration with Statik Selektah, Well-Done, didn’t do as well as the more obscure Dr. Lecter. But after a scintillating 2012 and two widely acclaimed mixtapes, Blue Chips and Rare Chandeliers, the New York rapper with a fondness for food and sports metaphors is betting that his audience is more charitable this time. [M.R.]

Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste (TBA)
Okay, I admit I’m really sick of Azealia Banks’ combative personality. I know she’s embodying a queen, and queens are a sassy and vindictive lot. But her music is so fantastic that it shouldn’t be overshadowed by stupid Twitter beefs, whether it’s with Angel Haze (which feud seems totally fake -- after all, they’re on the same record label) or Perez Hilton, of all people. Broke with Expensive Taste has the potential to make PopSugar.com readers learn why Banks’ melding of Lil Kim-styled raunch rap, queer culture and retro-minded deep house is so compelling. Rumored collaborations with Beyoncé and Lady Gaga may help her cause. [M.R.]

J. Cole, Born Sinner (TBA)
How can you peak at no. 1 on the pop charts with a gold-selling debut, score two Top 20 hits, and still be underrated? Despite its success, J. Cole’s Cole World: The Sideline Story didn’t inspire the kind of contentious arguments over its artistic merits that say, Drake’s Take Care or even Big Sean’s Finally Famous did. So J. Cole’s goal with Born Sinner will be to break out of that “he’s aiiight” zone and get everyone excited about his music. Last year’s single, the provocative “Miss America,” was a good start, as are plans for a collaborative project with Kendrick Lamar. [M.R.]

Future, Future Hendrix (TBA)
Everyone loves Future, but that didn’t translate into mega-sales for his Pluto debut, even after his label re-released it as Pluto 3D (and, frustratingly, changed the track-listing order). Expect that to change with Future Hendrix. Our interest in Kid Cudi, whose spaced-out sing-song approach anticipated Future’s Dirty South-inflected troubadour, initially outpaced his record sales, but it all eventually aligned in a big way with Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. However, there’s a cautionary tale in that analogy, because Kid Cudi’s increasing navel-gazing pretentiousness seems to have stalled his career. So as Future soars towards astronaut status, he’ll need to maintain the goofy, irrepressible charm that made us love him the first place. [M.R.]

Lil Wayne, I Am Not a Human Being II (TBA)
Do we still care about Lil Wayne? Who cares what we think? The New Orleans-to-Miami-to-living-on-his-tour-bus star scores hits so easily, whether it’s with T.I. or David Guetta, that critical opinion doesn’t matter anymore. Weezy F. Baby’s career, stretching back to the late '90s, includes a handful of minor classics (particularly the first two installments of Tha Carter), more Top 100 pop appearances than any other artist in history, an avalanches of gold and platinum plaques, and a murderer’s row label in Young Money that includes Drake and Nicki Minaj, so he undoubtedly feels he has nothing left to prove and can do anything he wants. He’s probably right. [M.R.]

Tyler, the Creator, Wolf (TBA)
Last year was a topsy-turvy one for Odd Future: sainthood for Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE, general indifference for MellowHype’s Numbers, a backlash generated by the middling The OF Tape Vol. 2, and strong reviews for mixtape projects from Hodgy Beats and Domo Genesis. But Tyler, the Creator embodies the Wolf Gang ethos more than any other member, even Earl Sweatshirt (whose Doris also drops this year), since his Goblin represents the mainstream’s first exposure to the L.A. collective. If Wolf actually drops in 2013 -- it was previously scheduled for last fall -- it should rekindle the fiery debate over Odd Future’s gory swagcore sensibility and its place in the hip-hop vernacular. [M.R.]

ALT/INDIE

Atoms for Peace, Amok (February 26)
Atoms for Peace have been flirting with us for far too long. Formed in 2009, the group -- comprising Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke (the project is named after a song from his solo debut, The Eraser) and producer Nigel Godrich; Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea; Ultraísta drummer Joey Waronker; and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco -- is finally releasing its debut album. It's a nine-track affair that, judging by first single "Default," stretches Radiohead's more recent glitchy, metallic experiments into an infinite land of apocalyptic dreams. [Stephanie Benson]

Johnny Marr, The Messenger (February 26)
Johnny Marr's role in indie rock is immeasurable -- the pristine guitar jangle he gave to The Smiths alone has made him one of indie music's most revered and influential axemen. Since The Smiths don't plan on reuniting anytime soon (no matter how much money or how little meat Coachella will offer), we can at least hear more than a little of Marr's magic (and his great voice!) with his first-ever solo album. We're hoping this helps kick-start another Britpop revolution. [S.B.]

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse (March 5)
One of our favorite debuts of 2011 came from a young, introspective Trevor Powers out of Boise, Idaho, perhaps an unlikely candidate for indie music's hottest new thing. But his Youth Lagoon project's The Year of Hibernation beautifully encapsulated lonely, lovesick nights in an intimate setting of lush reverb and hushed laments. For his sophomore album, Powers has said he's become "more fascinated with the human psyche and where the spiritual meets the physical world." With track names like "Third Dystopia" and "Daisyphobia," we expect another haunting helix of anxiety and poignancy, perhaps spiked with a bit of psychedelia. [S.B.]

Phoenix, Bankrupt! (April)
Indie pop's favorite Frenchmen are back! Nearly four years after breakout Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart -- which resulted in a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and tons of play all over TV -- the Versailles group plans on dropping its fifth release in April. No new music has surfaced yet, but from interviews, we can gather that the new album may contain "a bunch of percussionists," may make you yearn for the French high-speed rail service TGV, and may just be a complete 180 from the snappy pop of its predecessor. Maybe Drumline meets Kraftwerk?! [S.B.]

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito (April 16)
Right around the time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will be celebrating the 10th (!) anniversary of their badass debut, Fever to Tell, we may just be getting their fourth release as well. The trio played new song "Despair" at a Hurricane Sandy benefit back in December, but only a precious few got to hear it. No other new tracks have made the rounds, so whether this album will be a stomping, feverish rocker like their first, a dizzier electronic flirtation like their last, or maybe just something completely unexpected, well, it's anyone's guess. [S.B.]

My Bloody Valentine (Title and date TBA)
There are actually some young My Bloody Valentine fans around -- of drinking age, mind you -- who weren't even alive when this shoegazing sensation last dropped an album (that'd be 1991's seminal Loveless). But thanks to the quartet's massive influence since, they continue to stun and inspire new generations. Speaking of the new record, mastermind Kevin Shields told NME, "I think with this record, people who like us will immediately connect with something. Based on the very, very few people who've heard stuff -- some engineers, the band, and that's about it -- some people think it's stranger than Loveless. I don't." If anything's gonna be cranked up to 11 this year, it should probably be this. [S.B.]

How to Destroy Angels, Welcome oblivion (March 5)
Trent Reznor's been in soundtrack mode for way too long, so it's about time we get an official new release from him, this time with How to Destroy Angels, his industrial-ambient project with wife Mariqueen Maandig and longtime collaborators Atticus Ross and Rob Sheridan. Though the group's first release, a self-titled EP, dates back to 2010, Welcome oblivion will be their first full-length. Songs from 2012's An omen EP are likely to make the cut, which means lots of glitchy, ominous, dark and sensual sounds to keep you sufficiently tantalized. [S.B.]

ROCK

Paramore, Paramore (April 9)
From a tumultuous personnel overhaul to struggles developing their sound, the last three years have been a real test of Paramore's collective resilience and patience. But fans will finally get to hear what the band's been up to when the Fueled by Ramen label drops their new record in early April. A recent sneak peek at lead single "Now" promises a genuinely radical departure: goth-stained modern rock boasting touches of Alt-J, M83 and Muse. In others words, arty stuff from these grown-up pop-punkers. [Justin Farrar]

David Bowie, The Next Day (March 12)
Before the surprise unveiling of "Where Are We Now?" in early January, most fans had not a clue that the Thin White Duke was working on a new album (one that had actually been in production for two solid years). If said sneak preview is any indication, the singer's first full-length since 2003's Reality harkens back to his fertile Berlin days of the mid-'70s. It's perfect timing, considering how Heroes-style ambient pop has become all the rage in recent years. [J.F.]

Pearl Jam (Title and date TBA)
According to several interviews Eddie Vedder and company have given in recent months, Pearl Jam are making serious headway on the follow-up to Backspacer. This is a good thing: If the Interweb is any indication, fans want something ASAP. Our crystal ball here at Rhapsody HQ tells us the new record will be huge, their biggest since the No Code / Yield years, in fact. Why? Well, it just kind of feels like the pop world is primed to hail P.J. as the rock veterans they've gracefully become. [J.F.]

Queens of the Stone Age (Title and date TBA)
Getting a straight answer from Josh Homme about anything -- much less a timetable for the release of a upcoming album -- is always a chore. At one point late last year, the new album (titled to be determined) was rumored to be set for a March release. Though the band quickly shot down this date, they did offer this wonderfully cryptic description of the music: "Like running in a dream in a codeine cabaret." Both Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor are involved, so this thing looks to be pretty damn massive. [J.F.]

Alice in Chains (Title and date TBA)
When AIC rose from the ashes in 2009 with new frontman William DuVall, many longtime fans were skeptical. And rightly so: The late Layne Staley was one of modern rock's most singular -- and influential -- howlers. Amazingly, though, Black Gives Way to Blue proved to be really good. Over three years later, the reconfigured band looks to repeat the success with an album set for spring release. Lead single "Hollow" certainly hints that it will be another solid set from the alt metal pioneers. [J.F.]

My Chemical Romance, Conventional Weapons (February 5)
Perhaps in a bid to outdo Green Day's thoroughly absurd trilogy shtick last year, My Chemical Romance are in the midst of releasing two new songs a month between October 2012 and February of this year. Recorded back in 2009 (before Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys), the 10 songs in question will then appear on the compilation Conventional Weapons. Such a tactic surely seems like a recipe for convincing fans not to buy the new record. But hey, they're the rock stars, not us. [J.F.]

LATIN

Julieta Venegas, Los Momentos (February)
Everyone's favorite Latin indie pop ingénue is set to release her first new album in three years this winter. If lead single "Tuve Para Dar" (which dropped in December) is any indicator, expect Los Momentos to be drenched in glistening '80s-pop synths and wistful dance beats. [R.D.]

Shakira (Title and date TBA)
We don't know how she's going to do it all, but hey, if anyone can release a new album just a few months after having a baby (she's due this month) while also taking on The Voice judgeship, it's Shakira (after all, her hips don't lie, etc.). It'll be her first release on Roc Nation, and word is producers and writers include Afrojack, LMFAO's Redfoo, Sia, RedOne and Ne-Yo for the English-language effort. [R.D.]

Dyland y Lenny, My World 2.0 (February 12)
The reggaeton duo is all set to release album No. 2 this winter, and all signs point to awesome, based on their Pitbull-featuring, beats-heavy, Aerosmith-sampling, still-charting dance pop lead single "Sin Ti." [R.D.]

Carlos Vives (Title and date TBA)
Colombia's other sensitive heartthrob looks likely to release a new album this year. With its soft vallenato rolls and easy groove, his single "Volvi A Nacer" is still ruling the charts, and Vives is set to drop a second single that finds him collaborating with Brazilian sensation Michel Teló in the coming weeks. Genius duet alert! [R.D.]

Calle 13 (Title and date TBA)
The Internets have been buzzing about Residente and Visitante's sixth studio album since 2011. It didn't make it out last year, but is rumored to be dropping sometime in mid-2013. It's also rumored to be at least half in English (which Residente said he's been mastering) -- and as fiery (and political, and iconoclastic) as ever. [R.D.]

R&B

Beyoncé (Title and date TBA)
The Beyoncé promotional juggernaut is in full swing with a hot cover portfolio for GQ magazine, a reunion with her mates from Destiny's Child and, most importantly, a Super Bowl Halftime Show gig on February 3. It's reassuring to remember that when her new album drops this year, it will be more than just another marketing vehicle. It'll be high concept for sure – this is B we're talking about here. She's gathered a slew of collaborators ranging from husband Jay-Z to Justin Timberlake, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Miguel, Ne-Yo, The-Dream and Timbaland. What will they come up with? No one knows yet, but we have reason to be excited. Her last album, 2011's 4, drew some of the best reviews of her career. [Mosi Reeves]

John Legend, Love in the Future (Date TBA)
John Legend was slated to release his first solo album since 2007's Evolver last fall, and he had a tour scheduled as well, but he canceled both. He's kept busy over the years, though, by recording a full-length collaboration (Wake Up!) with The Roots, full of classic soul covers and a sexy lead single -- that'd be "Tonight (Best You Ever Had)" -- for the hit Think Like a Man soundtrack. Both hint that Legend may finally give up the sappy Burt Bacharach influences that marred his last two albums, and make something as fresh and contemporary as his classic debut, Get Lifted. [M.R.]

The-Dream, Love IV MMXIII (Date TBA)
Will The-Dream ever get the pop success he deserves as one of the most influential R&B songwriters of his generation? Probably not, but as his random-but-still-entertaining 2011 mixtape Terius Nash: 1977 proved, a new Dream album is always fun, and guaranteed to be full of hilariously sardonic lyrics and imaginative melodies. His fourth installment in the "Love" series reportedly includes features from Pusha T and Timbaland, but don't be surprised by a higher-profile cameo like Drake or 2 Chainz (don't quote me, I'm just speculating). [M.R.]

AlunaGeorge, Body Music (Date TBA)
It's a fortuitous time to be a British pop artist, whether you're selling a gazillion albums like Adele or simply driving the Internet nuts like Disclosure. Aluna Francis and George Reid will probably fall into the latter category with their debut, Body Music, since it follows a handful of singles widely hailed yet commercially ignored for their kittenish R&B vocals and glitch electronic beats. But if Ellie Goulding can rule U.S. pop radio for over two years with "Lights," then there's hope. [M.R.]

The Foreign Exchange (Title and date TBA)
Comprised of producer Nicolay and rappa-turnt-sanga Phonte Coleman, The Foreign Exchange are one of the few groups still innovating on the neo-soul sound, and not just using it as an excuse for sleepy bedroom ballads with Marvin Gaye references. But with the rise of Dawn Richard, Solange and other leaders of the alternative R&B movement, does the duo still represent the vanguard of indie soul music? It will be interesting to see where they fit into a scene that has changed dramatically since their last album, 2010's critically acclaimed Authenticity. [M.R.]

METAL

Voivod, Target Earth (January 22)
Quebec's ageless math-thrash scientists were able to employ riffs left over by late guitarist Piggy on their last couple albums, but Target Earth is their first studio set with new guitarist Chewy, from the band Martyr. It's also their first in forever to feature their original, now electronica-seasoned bassist Blacky. The album is already drawing rapturous comparisons to 1988's classic Dimension Hatross. One guarantee: It'll be out of this world. [Chuck Eddy]

Holy Grail, Ride the Void (January 22)
These battle-ready death-thrashers squawked like bats out of hell -- okay, out of Pasadena, Calif. -- a couple years ago with their debut album, Crisis in Utopia. Some were surprised by how good it was, but people who recognized three guys from White Wizzard's first EP knew what skills to expect. They've since swapped out one of two guitarists, but there's been no evidence that shredding will be sacrificed. [C.E.]

Bullet for My Valentine, Temper Temper (February 12)
Quite possibly the most inescapable metal band to emerge from Wales since Budgie (who bizarrely never charted in the States, so maybe they don't count), B.F.M.Y. -- as screamo-core insiders call them -- have taken "big with the kids" to staggering new levels of who-knows-what: Their last two albums, in 2008 and 2010, actually both went top four in the U.S.. Could their new one do even better? Stay tuned! [C.E.]

Rotting Christ, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (March 5)
You might think black metal never changes, but if so, you're clearly not one of the people who've been watching this controversially named quarter-century-veteran Greek gang allegedly take the genre to the "next level" in recent years -- for instance on 2010's Aealo, the centerpiece of which was an eight-minute Diamanda Galas cover starring the legendary screaming banshee herself. If mystical blasphemy scares you, better run and hide now. [C.E.]

Intronaut, Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones) (March 19)
Long committed to proving to doubters that metal isn't music for simpletons, this post-proggy L.A. bunch has been praised for incorporating rhythms from several continents (guitarist Dave Timnick even plays tabla sometimes), not to mention jazz fusion interludes, "additional percussion," stuff possibly about pterodactyls, and words that'd win you lots of Scrabble points. Several of which are in their new album's very title, so watch out! [C.E.]

Ghost, Infestissumam (Spring)
Mysterious and spooky, coptic and kooky, Sweden's occult-ritual clergy are so secretive they're not even revealing the exact release date of this second sacramental offering yet. We also still don't know the band members' true identities, though Papa Emeritus has apparently changed his name to Papa Emeritus II (backup ghouls remain nameless). "Secular Haze," "Idolatrine," and "Monstrance Clock" sure are promising titles, though. Plus, Ghost have been covering ABBA live lately. [C.E.]

COUNTRY

Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom (February 5)
Between his acting career and decades of country hits, Tim McGraw is a well-known heavyweight in the country world and beyond. With an armload of hit CDs already to his name, what's left to get excited about? Well, after a very long and contentious court battle, McGraw successfully sued to end his contract with Curb. Two Lanes of Freedom marks the singer's debut for Big Machine, and anticipation -- not to mention curiosity -- runs high for this high-profile release, which already houses such hits as "Truck Yeah" and "One of Those Nights." [Linda Ryan]

Kris Kristofferson, Feeling Mortal (January 29)
Kris Kristofferson must be feeling his age. What else could explain the title of the 76-year-old's upcoming album? Any album the icon releases is highly anticipated, but it's hard not to feel a sense of urgency with this one. It's also the last of a Don Was-produced Twilight Years Trilogy, released on the singer's own KK Records. [L.R.]

Ashley Monroe, The Rose (March 5)
Ashley Monroe's been making the rounds and writing for others for a while, but her membership in the red-hot Pistol Annies has upped her visibility considerably. Here's the dirt: Produced by Vince Gill, The Rose sparkles with old-school charm. And personally, we can't wait to hear "You Ain't Dolly (and You Ain't Porter)," a duet she recorded with Blake Shelton. [L.R.]

Brad Paisley, Wheelhouse (April 9)
Brad Paisley is a perennial fan favorite, so each and every release seems to send waves of excitement throughout Country Music Land. On a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! , Paisley said of his current recording experience, "It's all about leaving your comfort zone. We really have tried to go out on a limb with this record and see how far we can stretch certain things." If that doesn't make us want to hear the results, nothing will! [L.R.]

Natalie Maines, Mother (May 7)
The thought of a Natalie Maines solo album is enough to make fans of Dixie Chicks salivate. Those who dropped the band during "the controversy" can tune out now. Mother marks the singer's first full-length project since 2006's Taking the Long Way, leaving fans with seven years of wanting and waiting for something more. If that wasn't enough, the Dixie Chicks are scheduled to replace Lady Antebellum on a few Canadian festival dates due to Hillary Scott's pregnancy. The two roads definitely lead to one gigantic ball of excitement set to explode on May 7. [L.R.]

Kacey Musgraves (Title and date TBA)
Kacey Musgraves' stock has gone up exponentially since her appearance on Nashville Star back in 2007, as she steadily built her name by writing songs for the likes of Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride and, most recently, placed "Undermine" on the Nashville soundtrack. In 2012, Musgraves wowed a crowd of country radio programmers at the annual Country Radio Seminar -- the relatively unknown singer got a standing ovation after singing her Southern gothic slice-of-life "Merry Go Round." She's poised for a big breakthrough, making her as-yet-untitled debut one of the most anticipated country releases of 2013. [L.R.]

ELECTRONIC/DANCE

Ulrich Schnauss, A Long Way to Fall Out (February 12)
There are few shoegaze fans more committed than Germany's Ulrich Schnauss. Between 2001 and 2007 he recorded three solo albums that lovingly retraced every nubby wrinkle in the velvety sound pioneered by artists like My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse and Ride, balancing sandpapered chords with the dulcet melodies of mid-period Cocteau Twins. He sounds just as yearning on his fourth album, but the indie influences have given way to a fuller appreciation of '90s ambient music. [Philip Sherburne]

Lusine, The Waiting Room (February 19)
Seattle's Lusine (Jeff McIlwain) spent the late 1990s and most of the following decade drawing filigreed shapes in the margins between IDM and minimal techno. Then, with 2009's A Certain Distance, he swept away the digital cobwebs to reveal a pop sensibility that had been lurking beneath the surface all along. On his first album in four years, he gives free rein to his melodic impulses as never before, resulting in a collection of jewel-toned tunes that are as hummable as they are intricately detailed. [P.S.]

Maxmillion Dunbar, House of Woo (February 19)
As one of the cofounders of Washington, D.C.'s Future Times label, Maxmillion Dunbar has helped spearhead a quiet revolution in American house music -- a movement that pays tribute to the music's roots without sacrificing its futuristic ideals. On his debut album, he delivers his masterpiece: an hourlong excursion through house music's outer limits that takes in analog freakery, melancholic R&B, shifting tempos and spacey textures, all while soundtracking the sweat-soaked basement party of your dreams. [P.S.]

Apparat, Krieg Und Frieden (February 19)
Never one to submit blindly to the club-music status quo, Apparat has spent the past few years beefing up his live show as a full-band affair with deeply emo overtones. Naturally, the next step would have to be an album based on his music for a German experimental theater production of Tolstoy's War and Peace. But don't let that intimidate you: The lead single, "A Violent Sky," might be manna for fans of Radiohead (and even Coldplay). [P.S.]

Matmos, The Marriage of True Minds (Feb. 22)
The Marriage of True Minds is, in part, a tribute to the 20-year romantic, intellectual and artistic bond between Matmos' Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt. It's also a sly nod to the telepathic underpinnings of their first album in five years, in which they blindfolded friends and colleagues, asked them to divine the sound of the duo's new record -- and then used those responses as compositional cues. Hypnotized voices occasionally cut through the LP's uncanny blend of dance music, deconstructed pop and musique concrète, serving as soothsaying guides to an irresistible shadow world. [P.S.]

Kavinsky, Outrun (February 25)
Like a lot of his Parisian compadres, Kavinsky's got a thing for '80s cheese: specifically the neon-streaked noir of Miami Vice, Heat, and other touchstones of that high-gloss era. His song "Nightcall," produced with Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, was a natural fit for the soundtrack of Drive, and he follows suit with the sleek, streamlined Outrun. Coproduced by Ed Banger's SebastiAn, it's a concept album about a guy, a girl and a red car. It's set in 1986. What else would you expect? [P.S.]

WORLD

Red Baraat, Shruggy Ji (January 22)
Starting the year off with a bang is the distinctive, raucous, hybridized wild ride that is Red Baraat. The Bollywood-meets-New-Orleans-brass band drops its latest album just in time for Mardi Gras. [R.D.]

Ballaké Sissoko, At Peace (February 5)
The noted kora player's last album -- 2011's Vincent Segal collaboration, Chamber Music -- was a critically acclaimed work of hushed elegance. From what we've heard of At Peace, it's even more gorgeously graceful. [R.D.]

Dengue Fever (Title and date TBA)
OK, this one's a bit of a stretch, but everyone's favorite neo-retro-Cambodian-psych outfit started its own label last year (the awesomely titled Tuk Tuk Records). So far they've only released deluxe versions of their early albums, but they say they've been in the studio. And since it's been a couple years since Cannibal Courtship, well ... [R.D.]

Family Atlantica, Family Atlantica (February 25)
We don't know much about this new London-based band, but we like how their story starts: A British producer, his Venezuelan singer wife and their Nigerian-Ghanian percussionist friend walked into an abandoned vicarage (wha???) with some pretty awesome guests (Ethio-jazz master Mulatu Astatke!). Plus, their debut's being put out on Soundway, the crate-digger powerhouse that put out some of the best albums of last year -- this'll be their first experiment with original material! [R.D.]

The Creole Choir of Cuba, Santiman (February 12)
This vibrant folk choir's debut was one of 2010's most acclaimed releases. Real World is set to release its second effort, which features a host of international guests and songs that range from the poignant to the political. [R.D.]

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